Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27/17]

General Palm Springs area.

Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby Ric Capucho » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:08 am

D64F5C0C-8EF8-4041-AD61-3A7A427B7C82.jpeg


146C8748-D015-4EC1-A7A6-4CFB50A56E17.jpeg



These views of the lie of the land south of the “FOUND” location might help.

The northerly blue line is the North View trail, a well known extension of the Maze Loop.

I think my suspicions as to the likeliest route from the car to the final location was likely to be are clear. Long story short, to arrive in their final location (to my mind, so a health warning is applicable) is that they must have headed away from civilisation *twice*. Once when they reached the larger wash marked “T4 1514” on the map, where they appear to have headed *up* the other wash. Odd, as the spot marked “802” is the easy way to safety. And they headed away from civilisation yet again when they exited even that wash and climbed up/entered the side canyon that Tom checked out.

There’s a possibility that they reached there final spot from a route coming out of the south east, but I struggle to see how. There are other possibilities coming from due east, but they appear a bit flimsy to be realistic. Dunno.

Also note the Google “scale” in the bottom right hand corner, and a reminder that 200m is about 200 yards. So they headed some 500-600 yards away from the sight and sounds of civilisation. As Tom said, this looks very much like an effort to find a private spot; not to reach safety.

Ric
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby Perry » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:20 am

Interesting. I love how 2 people consider this message board to be so obscure that it's not quite public. :)

I'm curious if there are views of houses while descending the main canyon from Maze. Interesting point that they might have heard traffic. Otherhand, did you hear traffic? And does it make sense that the SAR teams only saw footprints in the main canyon? If they used drugs, I don't think we can assume that they took them at the beginning of the hike, and if they had it's still possible they could have reached their final location before the effects wore off.

Wildhorse, I have other info from a reliable source that suggests it would be very difficult to fake the murder-suicide, but not impossible. I don't know if I'm allowed share publicly (is this board public?), but I'll say it probably convinced them that there wasn't a double murder. It's not exactly classified info, but I don't know if a FOIA request would obtain the same info.

Ric, do you know what the error boundaries are for the pings?
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby Ric Capucho » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:25 pm

Hi Perry,

The error boundaries of the pings in this case are totally unknown, publically.

Generally it depends on whether the locations were returned by the cellphone’s internal GPS chip (in which case plus minus 10 feet or somesuch, the vertical error rate is more like 50 feet), or whether they were inferred by the ping round trip journey duration (speed of light divided by two, erm, it gets complicated) in which case the error might be plus/minus 10% - although I suspect plus 20%/minus 10%, hence my recent Ewasko post. c.f. Tom’s always right, so listen to him not me.

With regards to drugs: I personally think they’re irrelevant in this case. As is the fake sighting of the couple a week after their death. I even think the scouting trip a week before is irrelevant; other than perhaps showing how much was emotionally riding on getting things just perfect on this trip for a romantic reconciliation.

I’ll be back later with screenshots of the areas that SAR put around the pings. Quite surprising how precise they were, and just how much faith SAR put into the accuracy if the pings.

Ric
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby cynthia23 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:21 pm

Ric and Otherhand, thank you so much for adding so much significant information. There is a lot to process there.

'Mercy killing' could not have been a RATIONAL decision. No one in their right mind would have done it in that visibly close to civilization. The remaining possibilities: heat-crazed despair, drug-crazed delirium, or a planned murder (albeit perhaps an insane one, per Ed's very valid point that schizophrenia manifests at this age)?

I would not rule out 'heat-crazed despair'. Even though it seems so intuitively unlikely lost people would turn away from an easy downhill route and go back uphill, or commit suicide with buildings visible below, I do think it's possible. They may have seen the buildings, and then turned back up the hill with a vague idea of climbing a little higher to gain cell coverage--then, when they couldn't get it, turned into the small slice of shade offered by the side canyon to rest. At that point, perhaps, Nguyen was in severe physical distress, perhaps screaming for Orbeso to do something. Remember that one of the primary symptoms of heat exhaustion is loss of judgement and ability to think clearly. I'm remembering the guy who died on Skyline of heat exhaustion who was found sitting bolt upright not two hundred yards from buildings, with a half-full bottle of water. Clearly, his brain had stopped being able to function at all, even at a primitive level. As inexperienced hikers (none of their social media showed any pix of them hiking,except for one of Nguyen with friends at potato-chip Rock), they may not have understood that civilization was relatively close or that their bodies actually could have gone further. We've all had bonk moments (well, I have :( ) where I despaired and truly thought I could not go on another step, even though my rational mind knew I was only a quarter mile from my destination. Multiply that despair with dehydration and/or drug-fuzzed brains and, unfortunately, a gun close to hand ...

Or, no--and it was flat-out homicide. For me, the key would be retracing the path they took to the final location and determining how long it took them to get there. Assuming they did come down the main north-south wash from the North View trail, I wonder how long that total trip might have been from car to FL? Anyone care to hazard a guess?

If it was under a few hours, what happened was not a mercy killing, but either a planned murder, or a drug-trip-induced murder.(remember, sheriffs DID find 4 different hallucinogens at the AirBnB, their social media was full of drug refs, and taking shrooms at JTNP is such a 'thing' its called The Joshua Tree.) But, if the tracks suggest it was seven to eight hours and a highly erratic route, then what happened was not a planned murder.

Ric's map shows a point at which blood was found, and footsteps in very disparate locations, which seem to suggest a convoluted or confused route as well as an injury. The blood, the terrible heat of the day, the scattered footsteps, the drugs at the AirBnB, and that the hike had been planned by Nguyen, not Orbeso--at this point, I'm leaning toward the lost hikers in (irrational) despair thesis, with the probable factor of drug use (even if it had only been the night before) causing some of their confusion. I do think many of the hikers on this board are so highly-conditioned that it might be hard for them to picture how hard this hike would be for 'normal' people. I'm not highly conditioned, so I can easily feel how this hike could rapidly devolve into a life-threatening situation.

I agree that photos on their phone would be a key indicator of what was happening. Another phone question I have is about the pings--not their accuracy, but whether these were attempted phone calls, or merely the 'handshakes' of passing coverage? Would their phone chips records show whether or not they'd attempted to call for help? My phone has a directory that shows a record of my calls, attempted or otherwise. This too would be key in determining what happened that tragic day. A lack of attempted 911 calls would make it clear they were not lost.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby Wildhorse » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:50 pm

We just don't have enough dots to connect.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby cynthia23 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:45 pm

Yep. You're right, Wildhorse. I just hope eventually those dots come out in public view.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby Ric Capucho » Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:28 am

site_view.jpg


Hi Tom,

Meant to ask earlier: at about what time was this photo was taken? The exif says 9:15am but wanted to be sure.

Rationale for the question is that the area shown is in deep shadow and I thought that escaping the blazing sun might be a more generous explanation for why the couple chose to enter this side canyon. Any thoughts as to how long the shadow would have lasted into the day?

Ric
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby OtherHand » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:39 am

The EXIF data sounds correct.

I wondered a bit about that myself. That little canyon runs pretty much north-south, with the image view looking northerly. I'd expect that by Noon the sun angle would be lined up with the canyon and shade provided by the tree. This would probably linger though mid to late afternoon, but I'd think after that the westerly canyon wall would provide shading. So there's likely a fairly small window of time when that tree would have been of use. Had it occurred to me I could have used a pocket transit at the site to get the specific solar cut off angles of the surrounding terrain and thus figured a window in which the tree would have been in use. There are tools like the Photographer's Emphemeris that do that on a large scale but the topo they use wouldn't have the fine detail of this specific site.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby kwilliams508 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:41 am

Ric Capucho wrote:
site_view.jpg


Hi Tom,

Meant to ask earlier: at about what time was this photo was taken? The exif says 9:15am but wanted to be sure.

Rationale for the question is that the area shown is in deep shadow and I thought that escaping the blazing sun might be a more generous explanation for why the couple chose to enter this side canyon. Any thoughts as to how long the shadow would have lasted into the day?

Ric


Ric Capucho...

You also have to remember that the sun positioning has shifted since the events in July so the Shadow positioning would not be accurate.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday [7/27

Postby RichardK » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:55 am

I keep wondering why Joseph was carrying a handgun. There was an internet story that Rachael feared a stalker, but I don't know if it was ever confirmed. In any event, would a stalker somehow discover that they went to Joshua Tree and follow them there? Needing a gun for stalker protection on an out of town trip sounds far fetched. Did Joseph have a concealed carry permit? These permits are not easy to obtain in California. If not, then taking a handgun to JT was illegal in itself.

I don't buy any of the "mercy killing" theory. The presence of a gun says premeditation to me. As a poster on another forum pointed out,

Fortunately for Rachel, Joseph just happened to be packing. Otherwise, him being the angel of mercy that he was would have been considerably more challenging.
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